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This entry is a modified version of Wikipedia's Skinheads entry. Please check it out.

Skinheads, named after their shaven heads, are members of a subculture that originated in United Kingdom/Britain in the 1960s, where they were closely tied to the Rude boy of the West Indies and the Mods of the UK.



Anti-fascist skinheads from New York City

There are a number of different "types" of skinhead falling into three main categories suggested by common usage.

  • Traditional (Trad), Trojan Skinheads (after the Trojan Records label), or Original Skins - Unlike the other categories, traditional skinheads do not regard attitudes toward racism as central to the subculture. Instead, they identify with the original skinhead movement ("The Spirit of 69") in music, style, culture and working class pride.
  • Nazi-Skinheads (Neo-Nazi Skins, sometimes called White Power or Boneheads) - Racist and highly political. Despite the common moniker, some racist skinheads have no connection to Nazism. They are generally nationalist, however. Hammerskins are among the most organised of all skinhead organisations.
  • SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice), Aggressively anti-racist and political, generally left wing. The moniker "SHARP skinheads" is commonly used for all anti-racist skinheads, even if they aren't members of a SHARP organization. Anti-racist skins include RASH (Red and Anarchist Skinheads), Redskins, and Anarcho-Skinheads.

These categories are descriptive, not definitive. There are many skinheads who don't fit in any of these categories. The usefulness of these terms is to explain the dominant forces of skinhead social structure.

There are also gay skinheads, who some argue constitute a distinct category, due both to questions about the extent to which they share skinhead culture, and because many (but not all) skinheads have strong feelings against homosexuality.


English Skinheads in late 1960s

London in the early 1960s was experiencing a growing class separation between the working class - struggling, relegated to substandard housing, and increasingly neglected by their political representatives - and the middle class. Those youths who could afford it, invested in new fashions popularized by American soul groups, British RnB bands and certain movie actors, as well as Carnaby Street merchants (clothing). These were the Mods, a youth subculture noted for its consumerism and affection for style, music and scooters. Those of lesser means, such as the dock workers, made do with the practical styles that suited their employment - steel-toed boots, straight-legged denim jeans, and shirts and braces (suspenders in the US) often handed down by their fathers. When possible, their limited funds were spent on smart outfits worn in the evenings to the dancehalls, where they danced to ska, reggae, and rocksteady beats.

Around 1965 a group of "hard" or "gang" mods, who could be identified by their shorter hair and working-class image, emerged from the larger mod scene. This resulted in a schism between "peacock mods" and skinheads, commonly known by that name by around 1968. (Other early nicknames included "lemons", "peanuts" and "suits"). Early followers were mainly interested in and influenced by Jamaican Reggae and Ska music (aka, The Spirit of 69), Jamaican Rude Boy culture and a dislike of those perceived as the 'ruling class'.

Skinhead culture exploded in the year 1969, to the extent that even the rock band Slade adopted the look, after which the original skinheads slowly dropped into new categories, including the "Suede-head" (defined by the ability to manipulate one's hair with a comb) and the next-stage "Smoothies" (often with hairstyles down to shoulder length). Fashions within both groups returned to their mod roots, reintroducing the common wearing of brogues or loafers, suits, and the slacks-and-sweater look.

During the mid-1970s in the UK, the skinhead movement was reborn in an unexpected way. With the introduction of Punk Rock to the public, kids were looking for the next great shock-rockers. Skinheads with shorter hair, less emphasis on style, and a new sound grew in numbers and grabbed the attention of the media as a result of repeated incidents of hooliganism during Football matches, often to the point of rioting between rival groups of supporters.

Skinheads gained a great deal of media attention after some of them were recruited by far right political parties like the National Front. The party's position against blacks and Asians appealled to some working class skinheads who blamed immigrants for economic and social problems. The mainstream media focused on these particular skinheads' racist stance and on their frequent use of violence. This led to the public's common perception that skinheads are neo-Nazis.

In an attempt to counter this negative stereotype, some anti-racist skinhead organizations were formed: Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) in 1987, and Anti Racist Action (ARA) in 1988. Other less political skinheads, such as the Glasgow Spy Kids in Scotland, and the publishers of the Hard As Nails zine in England also spoke out against the neo-Nazis and promoted traditional skinhead style and culure.

The Skinhead culture has since spread around the world, and there are many different kinds of skinheads.


Skinheads who adopt traditional styles are highly visible in public to both allies and enemies. In terms of clothing:


  • Men: Ben Sherman, Fred Perry, Lonsdale, Brutus, Jaytex or Arnold Palmer brands; cardigan sweaters; T-shirts; button-ups worn with top unbuttoned, generally with no tie; narrow blazers
  • Women: Same as men with addition of dress suits comprising a matching short skirt and ¾ length jacket with button-up


  • MA-1 type Flight Jackets (popular brands include Warrior and Alpha) in black or sage green; blue denim jackets (Levi or Wrangler); Harrington jackets; Monkey jackets; Crombie (brand)|Crombie]]-style overcoats; sheepskin 3/4 length coats; Donkey jackets


  • Men: Blue Levis or Wrangler jeans, straight leg with rolled cuffs (turn-ups) to show off the boots, often with the seam cut off and sewn to give a neater, flatter turn-up, and "properly" fitted; Sta-Prest flat-fronted slacks and other trousers; bleachers (jeans splattered with household bleach to resemble camouflage trousers) popular among punk-influenced Oi! skins; combat trousers, popular among Oi! skins and scooter boys
  • Women: Same jeans and trousers as men, but also mini-skirts and fishnet stockings


  • Traditional skinheads are known to wear tailored suits to events such as soul dances or ska concerts. Skinheads are particularly known to favour shark-skin suits, which are made of shiny material.


  • Men: Boots, originally Dr. Martens (Docs) sometimes "steelies" (steel-toed) with 3 to 14 holes; later, brogues and loafers and recently, Grinders and other brand boots; During the '60s, steel-toecapped boots were often referred to as "bovver boots" - thought to derive from the Cockney pronunciation of "bother".
  • Women: Docs, Monkey boots or loafers

Hats: Trilby hats; pork pie hats; scally (Benny in the UK) caps; "flat caps" (driver's caps)

Braces: No more than ¾ inch in width (In some areas, wider braces are considered to identify one as either white power or a wanna-be.


  • Men: Originally, between a "2" and "4" grade clipguard (short, but not bald!); beginning in the '70s, typically shaved close with no greater than a number "2" guard. Some skinheads clip their hair with no guard, and some even shave it with a razor. This started with the introduction of the Oi! scene.
  • Women: Skinhead girls commonly wear a "Chelsea" shaved on top with fringes grown out in the back and front. Also known as a a feathercut.

Laces and braces

Some skinheads, particularly highly political ones, attach significance to the color of their laces, braces, and (less commonly) flight jackets, using them to advertise their beliefs and affiliations. In order to find some time for myself I decided to search for service that could supply me with the prime quality custom essays at prices that would be reasonable enough. The final choice was QualityEssay.Com as they did have an excellent reputation. The particular colors used vary regionally and locally, however, so only skinheads in the same area are likely to interpret them accurately.

The "braces and laces game" has largely fallen into disuse, particularly among Traditionalist skinheads, who are more likely to choose their colors for fashion purposes. A common saying is "Laces and braces don't make you a racist." Additionally, in many areas laces must be 'laddered'—arranged with the outside laces horizontal and parallel, resembling a ladder—to be considered of any significance.


Oi! Oi! Music

Music plays an important role in any youth subculture and skinheads are no exception. Originally, the group was closely associated with the ska and reggae music of musicians like Desmond Dekker, Laurel Aitken, Symarip and Joe the Boss. The link between skinheads and reggae led to the sub-genre known as skinhead reggae.

Other types of music popular amongst early skinheads were Motown, Northern Soul, Rocksteady,and mod RnB. Suedeheads of the '70s were also known to listen to British glam rock bands like The Sweet and Mott the Hoople.

The most popular music for the late '70s Skinhead was Two-Tone, named after a Coventry-based record label that featured such bands as The Specials, Madness, and The Selecter. Two-Tone was the musical integration of Ska, Rocksteady and punk rock. The label was initially very successful, scoring many top 20 hits and eventually a number one. During this time (1979 - 1981), skinheads were a common sight on the UK highstreets.

In the '70s and early '80s, a variant on streetpunk called Oi!, became accepted enthusiastically by skinheads and punks. Oi! continues to be one of the most popular genres among skinheads. Musically, Oi! combines elements of punk, football chants, pub rock and '70s British glam rock. Some forefathers of Oi! were Sham 69, Cocksparrer and Menace. The term Oi! as a musical term is said to come from the band Cockney Rejects and journalist Garry Bushell, who championed the genre in the music magazine Sounds. Well-known Oi! bands of the late '70s and early '80s include Angelic Upstarts , Blitz, Last Resort, Combat 84 and 4-Skins. Not exclusively a skinhead genre, many Oi! bands included both skins and punks, or people who fit in neither category, who were sometimes called herberts.

U.S. Oi! began in the '80s with bands such as the Bruisers (the singer is now in Dropkick Murphys), Anti-Heros (who sued the makers of American History X for wrongful use of their logo), and Iron Cross (whose singer Sab Grey is said to be of Jewish descent). American skinheads have also accepted hardcore punk, with hardcore bands such as Warzone, Agnostic Front, and Cro-mags. Current American Oi! bands are generally closer musically to hardcore than to early British street-punk.

White power skins have a separate musical culture known as Rock Against Communism (RAC) which features bands such as Skrewdriver, Brutal Attack and Bound for Glory.

Glossary of terms

3i's or 3-eyes
Leather shoes having three eyelets for laces on either side and stitching across the toe. Popular for their resemblance to the boots worn by skinheads.
8i's (8-eyes), 9i's (9-eyes) etc.
Leather boots having the given number of eyelets for laces on either side. Other common numbers are 10, 12, 14, 18, and 20. They come either with or without steel toes. Steel toed boots are preferred because they can easily be used as weapons. High boots, such as 20-eyes are mostly worn by punk-skins, racist boneheads and gay fetish skins.
(Chiefly UK) Aggressive behavior; fighting or threatening to fight. The expression isn't exclusive to skinheads.
Blue jeans treated with household bleach to create a camouflage-like pattern. They were popular among punk rock-influenced Oi! skins in the '70s and '80s.
A derisive term used by Traditional and anti-racist skinheads for a neo-Nazi skinhead. Also used in the UK as a derogatory term for scruffy punk-influenced skinheads.
Boot party
(US) Euphemism for a skinhead-style fight (involving kicking), especially where one side outnumbers the other.
Bovver boy
(Europe) A skinhead who regularly or frequently seeks out enemies to beat down. The enemies are generally members of rival football (soccer) team supporters or members of other youth subcultures. Bovver is a Cockney slang word literally meaning "bother".
A fashion accessory for holding up one's trousers, consisting of a pair of elasticized bands which go over the shoulders and fasten to the trousers (usually in the form of a clip in the case of jeans) in the front and back. Although in the US these are commonly called suspenders, skinheads usually use the British term.
  1. Traditionally, a female skinhead. Also called a "skinhead girl" or "skingirl".
  2. The traditional haircut of a female skinhead, consisting of short hair on the crown, sides and back with a longer fringe in the front and on the neck. Also known as a feathercut.
Crew or UK Firm
A skinhead gang or group of friends.
Crucified Skinhead
An icon depicting a skinhead suspended from a cross and often seen on a T-shirt or patch, or as a tattoo. It symbolizes the hardships of the skinhead lifestyle (such as being vilified as a racist whether one is or is not) and makes a statement about one's commitment to the lifestyle.
A derisive term used by political skinheads for those who refuse to take sides, or who will associate with opposing groups.
A football (soccer) team fan who likes to brawl with fans of opposing teams. Often associated with skinheads and vice versa, but not all hooligans are skinheads.
A dance style associated with ska music.

External Links:

  • Papaskin American skinhead web site with news, images, forum, etc.
  • Aussie Skins Australian skinhead web site with news, images, forum, etc.

Regional sites



Skinhead Reggae